Introduction to Our Lance 1121
Saturday, 21 Sep 2002
written by Sterling
Our home is a 2003 Lance 1121 truck camper. So it rides completely supported by a pickup truck, with no wheels of its own, unlike a trailer. These units are typically measured by floor length; an 8' camper will fit within the bed of a full-size pickup. Ours is 11' 6", so yes, it sticks out the back a fair bit. This is nearly as large as truck campers get, but in the world of RVs, our "rig" (as they say) is maybe medium-sized, and most folks who live in an RV full-time would consider it tiny. All told, our 2-part RV is about 24' long (plus the bikes on the back), 8' wide, and 11' tall. It tips the scales in the neighborhood of 14,000 pounds.
Still, as Teresa has said, there are times that it feels like living in a shoebox.
One of the major reasons that we selected a truck camper for our travels is that it can be detached from the truck. [The other reason is that it has some semblance of all-terrain capability, but that's to be covered elsewhere.] Most full-time RVers accomplish the same thing by towing: either they tow a car behind a motorhome, or they live in a trailer pulled behind a large truck. But we thought the driving experience would be better if we weren't towing, and a truck camper is really the only way I know of to separate a vehicle from your living space without towing something.
Here's how it works: The camper is held to the truck by 4 big steel tie-downs. The camper also has extendable legs of its own, in our case operated by RF wireless remote control (very cool). So you simply undo the tie-downs, extend the legs, and drive the truck out from underneath. Sounds simple, right? It's actually quite a frightening experience, mostly because the camper is really heavy and the legs are, well, wobbly. Imagine a 2½-ton box (say, a 1992 Isuzu Rodeo) balanced 4 feet off the ground on movable legs less than 2 inches wide. Just so you're nice and relaxed about the whole enterprise, put as many of your worldly possessions in the box as will fit. Then spend some time maneuvering the largest pickup truck Ford makes underneath it, backwards, making sure you have it aligned to within a fraction of an inch but without touching it. And for extra fun, give the Ford a heavy clutch, a sloppy transmission, and vague steering. Beginning to get the picture? It's so hair-raising that we've actually only done it once in the 6 weeks we've owned the camper. Hopefully we'll become more accustomed to it, because our lifestyle would certainly benefit from easy detachability. We'll see.
Note that in the previous photo to the right, the camper is in its "down" position on the jacks, as opposed to the "up" position required for loading onto the truck. On the far side of the camper, you can also see some of the utility connections at this park; more about the utilities later. And, you get a nice view of the slide-out room, a concept that's been around for a while on larger RVs but is apparently a fairly recent arrival to the world of truck campers. We're always getting comments from people saying they've not seen one before. Basically, it's a section of one wall that moves outward by means of an electric motor which drives a track on the bottom of the slide. Ours moves out about 20" and contains our dinette. While the camper is usable with the slide in its "in" position, moving it out makes a world of difference, and it's usually one of the first things we do when arriving anywhere.
We've already had a number of people offer us a bedroom when we visit, and so far, we've always turned them down. Two major reasons: First, the bed in the Lance isn't some little foam sleeping pad, it's a real queen-sized innerspring mattress. That's right, it's actually comfortable. But more importantly… This is our bed. You know how when you travel, one of the best things about coming home again is sleeping in your own bed? Well, it's the same with us, except that when we travel we take our own bed with us. And without giving offense to your hospitality, that's generally where we'd rather sleep. Now, a full-size shower may be another matter…
The camper is fully self-contained, which means that we have onboard (and are responsible for) all the utilities you'd have in a stationary dwelling. Water, sewer, electric, gas, phone, and of course high-speed Internet. We haven't added TV yet, but the camper is wired for it. It's probably worth saying a bit about each of these systems:
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